WASHINGTON (GrayDC) DACA recipients are fighting to work on Capitol Hill. One lawmaker is trying to make their dreams come true.
A bill allowing Dreamers--people who are not U.S. citizens--to work as Capitol Hill staffers is working its way through Congress. Washington Correspondent Jillian Angeline speaks with a Dreamer who’s hoping the American Dream Employment Act will help others like her get hired on the Hill.
“There’s still this barrier as to how much we can do,” said 24-year-old Brenda Romero, a Dreamer living in Las Vegas.
Romero’s parents brought her to the United States from Mexico years ago. The DACA program, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, allows her to stay in the U.S., but she says federal laws are limiting her.
“It’s frustrating, it’s frustrating, it’s upsetting,” said Romero.
Romero interned on Capitol Hill. She could not turn it into a career because DACA recipients are not allowed by law to work in House and Senate congressional offices. Romero does not think that is fair.
“A lot of our undocumented youth have been putting in the work to be able to have these opportunities,” said Romero.
Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ) agrees. She is proposing the American Dream Employment Act.
“They feel like they should have the same opportunities that every child born in the United States should have,” said Kirkpatrick.
Critics say Democrats should be focusing on the broader immigration crisis before helping Dreamers find jobs.
“The more we leave our borders open and do not address these loopholes that drive the current crisis right now, we’re gonna have more people like Brenda here in the same situation,” said RJ Hauman, at FAIR, a D.C. conservative immigration group.
There is no timetable when the legislation will be brought to a vote. In the meantime, Kirkpatrick sends a hopeful message to Brenda and other Dreamers.
“We’re trying to get this done," said the Congresswoman.
"Anyone who has accomplished and earned the respect of a member of Congress should be able to work here regardless of status,” said Kirkpatrick.
Kirkpatrick is hoping the legislation is just the first step in immigration reform to help immigrants come into the U.S. legally.
Romero said she is now planning to go to law school sometime soon and hopes to work on immigration cases when she graduates.